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Getting to know X. Jie Yang

X. Jie Yang is a professor in the new School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures and is known as the father of Japanese language and cultural studies at the University of Calgary. When Yang joined the university over 25 years ago, he started the East Asian Studies program. In 2005 the program grew to include an immersion setting program where every year up to 20 students visit and study in Japan for one month. This past year the program has once again grown to include a two-week group study titled “Japan: It’s Culture and Life.” In July of 2016, Yang was honoured with the Order of the Rising Sun from the government of Japan for his long-term contributions to Japanese language education.

Tell us about one of your current research projects?
I have recently begun to explore using comics to present classic Japanese picture scrolls. I named it “translation (of scrolls) into comics” and I have produced a few examples in a digital format.

What’s new in the East Asian Language Studies program (EALS)?
The BA in EALS program saw is first graduating cohort in 2007, exactly 10 years ago. Back then, there were five regular faculty members in the Chinese and Japanese programs
together. In fall 2016, due to increasing demand, this grew to nine, and we are now able to offer quite a few more courses in language and culture studies both in Chinese and Japanese.

How can an international experience benefit a student?
Nowadays, many students have various foreign experiences through leisure trips. However, a study abroad program brings such an experience to an entirely different level, especially combined with an intensive language learning curriculum. Learning a language in an immersion setting ensures great progress toward mastering the target language.

What is your favourite part about travelling abroad with students?
In spring 2017, I will lead the four week program to Senshu University, and this will be my fifth trip with the same program in the past 10 years. I highly enjoy this experience. Typically I will design a few original local trips with the entire group and participate in all of the out-of-class activities provided by the host institution. I found that it is extremely valuable to have conversations with students on various topics. Often, while providing knowledge and guidance, I am able to gain fresh energy from young students.

What is your favourite travel destination?
Japan. A direct flight between Calgary and Tokyo makes a trip much easier and more enjoyable than before. Where’s the best Japanese food in Calgary? We are fortunate to have a number of choices for Japanese restaurants in Calgary. My list of favourites runs long; however, when going out with a small number of colleagues, my first choice is often Sushi-Bar Miki. If you have not yet tried it, you have to give it a try!

What is your favourite city?
I spent my graduate studies time in Kyoto, Japan. Thereafter, I travelled back to Kyoto countless times. The most recent two trips were in October, 2016 and in January, 2017. I consider Kyoto my second hometown and this fact is a point of pride for me.

Do you collect anything?
If I have to name one, it will be books. I have a reasonably small library on Japanese history and literature. However, in recent years more and more titles have come in an electronic format.